6:21pm Thursday 29th May 2014
PRIVATE hire drivers across Dudley borough will be able to choose the colour of their vehicle from Sunday bringing to an end a 17-year white-only rule.
The move finally draws a line under a long and sometimes arduously fought campaign by Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association to revoke the previous ruling which threatened to put many of its 700-strong members out of business.
It follows a u-turn by councillors, last December, to reverse the rule that private hire cars must be white - following protests by drivers.
The association's chairman Shaz Saleem revealed the cost for a white hire vehicle cost an average of £2,000 more than other coloured hire cars and he said: "The new ruling will not only benefit our customers, but also help us to provide a better service.
"When we originally asked for another colour, the council shot us down and that really annoyed people, especially as we'd shown them the price comparisons. That's what led to the protests. I now feel common-sense has prevailed."
Private hire cars will be still be obliged to show door signs on either side which clearly display taxi licence details. That will also include a signboard on top of the roof and a blue plate on the back of the vehicle.
Supporters of a single colour rule argued it was easier to identify private hire drivers alleged to have been involved in crime.
And although the police broadly supported the single colour rule, there was no specific evidence to suggest it reduced offending.
Mr Saleem added: "People will get better, safer vehicles operating in Dudley. Our priority has always been about safety and vehicles will be safer as a result.
"It's the signage that is important - not the colour.
"People should also remember that a taxi driver is very often the first point of contact when it comes to dealing with tourists to the area and that could have a lasting effect."
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